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Annie in Austin
Welcome! As "Annie in Austin" I blog about gardening in Austin, TX with occasional looks back at our former gardens in Illinois. My husband Philo & I also make videos - some use garden images as background for my original songs, some capture Austin events & sometimes we share videos of birds in our garden. Come talk about gardens, movies, music, genealogy and Austin at the Transplantable Rose and listen to my original songs on YouTube. For an overview read Three Gardens, Twenty Years. Unless noted, these words and photos are my copyrighted work.
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Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Welcoming Spring With Friends

After a record high of 91°F/32.2ºC on Friday, an overnight cold front delivered Saturday temperatures of 55°F/13ºC with gusting winds to the Divas of the Dirt - we were off and running for the first project of 2009.If you'd like to see what we Divas did last weekend it's posted on the Divas of the Dirt Blog. We're trying something new - instead of posting a yearly roundup of projects and recipes on the non-interactive website, we'll use the blog to post new projects reasonably soon after we do them. You can find some recipes for the dishes served at our meetings on the Divas' recipe blog.

The light was fading when I got home from Mattie's house - barely giving me enough time to protect tender plants from a threatened freeze. First the Christmas lights and thermal covers went over the Meyer's Lemon in the back yard and the Mexican Lime in the Secret Garden, a few pots were tucked into the shed and others went in the garage. Then I followed Pam/Digging's advice and covered the 2-foot tall Texas Mountain Laurel. Its buds were just showing color on Saturday and on Tuesday it was in full, unfrozen bloom. I've waited over four years to see this sight and smell the grapey scent. The water in the birdbaths had turned to ice on Sunday & Monday mornings but some ''Grand Primo' narcissus bought last fall bloom unfazed in their terracotta pot. These bulbs came from the Southern Bulb Company, so they should be the real 'Grand Primo'!
Tuesday afternoon I found a few small flowers of Yellow Lady Banks rose open on the patio arch. Today a few 'Pink Charm' narcissus from the dollar store have returned for a third spring
The white Spiraea near the back fence has small white flowers popped out on wandlike stems
A freeze discouraged these pale peach iris a few weeks ago, but today they hold nothing back

Mountain Laurel in the triangle bed with white iris and pale pink iris in the background along the fence - yes! The shrubs are still small, but this view has started to look like what I had in mind when the elements were planted four springs ago.
And around the corner in the Secret Garden are leaves that I love - the unfolding fig leaves are as beautiful as flowers to me. Our ten-day forecast shows no more cold spells - maybe our See-Saw Spring is settling down.


  1. Annie, your post today is the first I've read that represents gardeners' joy in greeting Spring. We all take our first breath of air on that certain day when, even though there still may be some Winter left, we know Spring is right around the corner. While many of us garden bloggers will be posting such words and pictures soon, I greatly enjoy your personal celebration as the first of many.
    And thanks for the referral to Pam's blog!

  2. Annie your blooms are beautiful and I always enjoy seeing what the Divas have been up to.:-)--Randy

  3. Wow, it does really look like spring in your neck of the woods. Nothing like that around me right now. I'm kinda jealous.

  4. 91???!!! Your flowers look amazing. I can't wait!

  5. My daffodils are just poking their heads above the mulch. These are new in my new yard and I planted them around the trees near the driveway. Your photos have gotten me excited.

  6. Ground is still frozen here in Ontario! Snow on the ground. lol

    Your flowers are lovely... really lovely.

  7. How beautiful it all looks! Once again I'm drooling over that Texas Mountain Laurel. I'm not envious of your 91 degrees.

  8. Annie, it must really be spring since the Divas are at it again. Can't wait to see all the projects and see all the beautiful blooms you divas coax out of your gardens.

  9. Annie, Lisa also showed a mountain laurel on her recent post from her trip to Texas. What a beautiful shrub! Everything looks so spring-like here--I love the pale peach iris, in particular. I am jealous, but like MMD, I'm not ready for 90 degree weather yet. I hope the warm weather has finally arrived for you, though, so the plants can sleep without their blankets at night:)

  10. I'm still looking at that diamond shaped hoe, wondering how it is that I don't have one like that?

    Your garden does look like it is welcoming spring, with some very beautiful, and fragrant, blooms!

    Carol, May Dreams Gardens

  11. Hi Annie.
    Both of those narcissus are great looking! I have a few patches of the plain yellow, but they are so "dwarf" you have to "a hunting" to even see them! I planted them before the beds started to take shape so they are now hidden from view by some rosemary and sage!
    If you have a few mountain laurel seed pods you are not needing, My daughter is on the hunt for some to do some "Indian Necklaces"! :-)

  12. I'm amazed by the big changes in temperature Annie, from 32C to freezing, wow! And then I look at your garden and again I'm amazed how well all your plants have survived. Oh those gorgeous Irises, I'll have to wait until half April until mine will be in bloom. I think I have Iris envy. ;-)

    My fig (and it's in my greenhouse) is in bud, no leaves yet but, like you, I enjoy watching them unfold. And that green, isn't that the brightest, freshest green you've ever seen?

  13. Wow, Annie, your garden sprang to life quite quickly, didn't it? And a big thanks to Pam and you for the suggestion to cover the mountain laurel buds. I had the same situation as you - full of buds and a predicted freeze- and I covered it overnight. I now have a lovely Mountain Laurel in full bloom with no damage! I love your peach irises, and how nice of the plant to be covered with them for you. I've never seen a pink daffodil, either. And your LadyBanks is about to be gorgeous soon, isn't it?

  14. I can't believe you have bearded irises already. I'm amazed. Astonished. My admiration flows over. I've become less and less successful with irises over the last decade. Maybe it's shade issues again. But if mine would just pay attention and bloom when yours are blooming, they'd be in sunlight. Silly things.

    You have so much going on already. I get a bloom here and there popping up almost every day--but nothing dramatic yet.

    I feel like I'm in a race for the next month or so trying to get everything going and growing for spring.

  15. Wow, that spirea looks amazing, (as do all your plants), but that one really caught my eye. How does it look when it isn't blooming? Worth adding it to my yard?

  16. I'm so glad your mountain laurel didn't get frostbitten this year. Thanks for the link.

    One of your white irises is blooming at Green Hall Garden. But the ones I brought with me are still waiting.

  17. Your garden is looking just lovely! My fig has no leaves yet although the Santa Rosa plum is leafing out.

  18. Your flowers are gorgeous, Annie! I can smell the narcissus from here. :-) What a beautiful garden you've created. It must bring you so much joy.


  19. Here's hoping the peach iris you shared last year will bloom - she perked up from her fainting spell and the foliage looks very healthy. Since my garden runs a couple of weeks later than yours, there's still hope.

    And, brace yourself, it's that time of year when I start whining about my envy of your wonderful Dirt Diva group.

  20. I love the peach iris! I'm hoping the ones you gave me will bloom this year, but there's no sign so far. The foliage is looking really good, though, and they seem to have settled in. :)

    You've got a lot more blooming than I expected, considering that you guys have gotten more and harder freezes up north than we have in south Austin.

  21. okay, totally off topic here, but what are the little asterisks for in your links?

  22. MayDreams Carol reported 73°F in Indianapolis today, Weeping Sore! My iris sneaked in just in time. Pam is an Austin Treasure.

    Thanks, Jamie & Randy - the Divas of the Dirt have been one of the best things about Austin.

    On the other hand, MrBrownThumb, you get to go to the Chicago Garden Show - hope the talks go well!

    The 91°F was not kind to the daffodils, Phillip - things open fast and fade fast.

    Hello Tabor - I love the way daffodils look at the base of trees. Bet it won't
    be long until yours bloom.

    Welcome Margaret - as a former Illinoisan, I can relate! It's hard to get the concept of frozen ground across to those who haven't experienced it!

    Hi MMD -the Texas Mountain laurel (AKA Mescal Bean or Big Drunk Bean) is making me drool, too - I'd been spoiled by having a huge established almost-tree-sized specimen at our previous house. Wish some former owner owner at this house had thought to put one in!

    You saw some plants on your Texas trip that are more tropical than what we can grow here, Lisa at Greenbow - and know you'll be coaxing blooms in Indiana very soon.

    Hello PrairieRose - the Mountain Laurels are pretty cool! The pale peach iris was labeled as a purple variety, so when it first opened (maybe 7 years ago on the deck of our previous house) the color was disconcerting. But soon became a favorite. The night temps are too warm - now I can't sleep!

    Next time I see Mindy I'll write down any info she has on that hoe, Carol ...know she bought it at the Natural Gardener. And congratulations on achieving Crocus-i-tude!

    The 'Grand Primo' came highly recommended as suited for Central Texas by Scott Ogden, East-side-patch, but the 'Pink Charm' was just an inexpensive gamble. Guess Scott is right: Each spring there are more 'Grand Primo' and fewer 'Pink Charm'.
    These are the first blooms on this TX Mountain Laurel plant - don't even know if we'll get pods. Aren't they poisonous?

    We had ridiculous temperature swings in Illinois, too, Yolanda Elizabet Heuzen, almost as bad as Austin! It's something with being in the middle of the continent, far away from oceans.
    My iris will be memories when yours are in glorious bloom. Sure hope we both get both fig leaves and figs ;-]

    Why didn't I cover them last year, Getgrounded Robin? Some dumbass idea about native plants being able to handle Texas weather? Pam gets an extra hug next time I see her!
    I grew many pink/apricot cupped daffodils in Illinois but up there they increase...here they decrease.

    They get lots of sun and have been in place for several years - so they were ready to go, MSS of Zanthan Gardens! Those peach iris are really happy here.

    The spiraea was already here when we came, Vertie. Similar spiraeas grew at my parents' house and at 3 of our Illinois houses so I was very happy to see it. It makes a kind of green background for other plants in summer, not striking when out of bloom.

    Many thanks, Pam/Digging! The 'Amethyst Flame' iris from you opened a flower on Friday.

    The fig is in the Secret Garden, Leslie - rather sheltered area. Some years the first set of leaves freeze off and one year the whole tree froze back to just a couple of feet tall. It's a gamble! Hope your Plum has a good year.

    The border has a less tentative look this spring, Dawn - I'm enjoying it!

    One year the peach iris rebloomed in fall, too, but that was unusual, VDBD - they have a mind of their own!
    Believe me, I know darn well it was like falling in a tub of butter to have the Divas take me in!

    Last year was pretty rough for getting new plants established, Lori - but as long as they're alive, they should bloom sooner or later!
    All my iris came from other Austin gardens - think that's why they've been okay.

    Hello Katina - haven't you figured out that nothing's off topic here LOL?
    If there's an asterisk next to the name of a blogger it means that we have met each other in person, a sort of public rejoicing in how lucky I have been.

    Thanks for all the comments!


  23. Spring is sort of thinking about it here, but we're no way as far forward as you. But there are at least buds in view...

  24. It's a funny thing but our bird bath was frozen solid too but the leaves on the pomegranate were untouched. It seems that cold weather does funny things and water can freeze without it actually affecting the plants. Mine all seem to survive save the new growth on the copper canyon daisy which was quite burnt. The wind also did a number. Is there no end to a gardener's problems.
    On a brighter note; I love your pink narcissus. I have never seen one like this before. Must look out for it next fall.

  25. Old House is a great source for those Grand Primos as well. I love them as well and grow them every year. I probably already told you this!

    Great images and the Mountain Laurel is, of course, gorgeous. But is that a true diamond-shaped hoe? I thought it was square/rectangular taken at a different angle.

  26. Yea for spring, even when the weather bounces up and down! We're still a long way from spring, but it's fun to watch what other gardening friends are doing.

  27. Hi SueSwift- glad you have buds at least! Spring has come too fast and hot here - seemed like summer this weekend.

    Lancashire Jenny, you're right about the birdbaths - the air temperature can be above freezing but the water will turn to ice in wind because the wind augments the effects of evaporative cooling, lowering the temperature of the liquid.
    My pomegranate leaves just appeared & seem okay. How funny about the copper canyon foliage!

    The number of bulbs you force is amazing, EAL, and bet your Grand Primos grown in steady temperatures indoors last longer than ours do with these wacky temperature swings.
    Mindy's hoe is shaped like a diamond with very sharp edges on all four sides - look on top of the Skip Richter article about Specialty Garden Hoes for another photo.

    You and Kate in Saskatchewan may have longer waits for spring than Texas bloggers, Jodi, but when it arrives we'll be ready to enjoy spring unfolding for you.

    Thanks for the comments,


  28. Annie,

    When I saw the mention of your peach iris I immediately began to wonder about the Illinois peaches from last summer! They were an astonishing feat of nature! I totally agree with you, fig leaves are beautiful. I planted one with hopes that it would offer a sheltering spot near the bench in my neglected garden. It remains to be seen if it survived this past winter's 4 degree weather. Today in the seventies in a few days it will be in the low thirties! A roller coaster ride isn't it! Gail

  29. Hi Annie, thank goodness you mountain laurel was spared and you were able to continue to enjoy the grapiness. Your triangle bed looks wonderful, love those peach iris. And the fig leaves too, we have a tiny one planted and plan to cover it if needed. I don't even care if it ever gets figs, I love those leaves!

  30. Spring is busting out all over your garden Annie, and it looks just lovely. Enjoy the beautiful weather! I'll try not to be too envious!

  31. Such temperature extremes must be as hard on the gardener as the garden. I love your soft colors of spring and the purple vine is luscious. I think I have those same iris although mine are a couple of months away from bloom.

  32. The pale peach iris is so pretty. where did you capture them

  33. Hi, my condolences on your hailstorm! :( Nothing worse than having things come into peak and suddenly be decimated...here the snails perform that function expertly...

    I'm a newcomer to your blog but really enjoyed it, and have linked you from my own. I'm also a musician and gardener, and also learning gardening all over again in Istanbul (rather a jump from Seattle!). It's interesting to see what's in sync with us there and what's not...my irises will be blooming within a week, but it's still too fickle here to put out tomatoes. I saw an earlier post that had mock orange blooming at the same time (?), ours is just leafing out! Oh...and Michelia...drool....:)


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